Philly Steaks – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Philly Steaks on Juan Tabo Opened Its Doors in February, 2018

I love the dignity in the name Philadelphia, but at heart, we’re Philly.”
~Lisa Scottoline
New York Times Best-Selling Author

There are a couple of things you should know about Philadelphia,” my friend Vladimir “Speedy” Gonzalez told me before my first visit to the City of Brotherly Love. “First, Philadelphians are not rude. We may be blunt and direct, but that’s just passion.” Passion? I always thought he was a grouch. “Second,” he added, “you’ve got to know the process for ordering a Philly cheesesteak when you visit Pat’s King of Steaks. If you don’t, you’ll be sent to the end of the line.” Sure enough, the Pat’s counterman didn’t appreciate my typical twenty questions ordering approach and sent me back to the end of the line, halfway around the block.

Apparently what Vladimir called passion is pretty pervasive in Philadelphia. There are dozens of examples of that passion in sporting events, including a notorious 1968 event in which Eagles fans booed and pelted Santa Claus with snowballs. There are also plenty of non-sporting examples. In 1998, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which oversees taxis, mandated etiquette classes for the city’s cab drivers. Cynics called it “cabbie charm school” and derided it as “a class to teach class.” More recently, a 2012 project called “Twitter heat map” scanned 462 locations in the United States for the phrases “Good morning” and “F–k you.” The project revealed that Philadelphia registered the highest concentration of “f-bombs,” but also the highest concentration of “Good morning.”

The Interior of Philly Steaks

So, how do you reconcile that dichotomy? “Good morning” is not only a salutation, it’s a wish and a blessing, a life-affirming declaration. It’s hardly a rude or impolite. Could it be that denizens of the City of Brotherly Love are morning people? That the rigors and vicissitudes of the day weigh so heavily that they’re transformed into rude and grumpy people? Could it be, as Vladimir explained, all about passion?  “8,” who matriculated at an institution of higher learning in Philadelphia explained the notion of the grumpy Pat’s King of Steaks waitstaff this way: “It’s kind of a self fulfilling prophecy much akin to the grumpy counterman at Zabar’s or the attitude of the waiter at Peter Luger when a patron asks for a menu, or any Jewish deli man charged with slicing the pastrami. It is part of the charm if that’s the way to express the curmudgeonly quality of the service. I would expect no less when ordering.” Extrapolate that charm, that attitude, that passion across an entire city and you’ve got Philadelphia, take it or leave it.

I’ll take it, especially if it means incomparable cheesesteaks, peerless pretzels, craveable cannoli, bountiful broccoli rabe and roast pork sandwiches, sumptuous square pizza, terrific tomato pie and scrumptious scrapple. We were ecstatic to learn about the February, 2018 launch of Philly Steaks, an authentic purveyor of Philadelphia cheesesteak sandwiches launched by veteran restaurateurs who plied their trade in the mean streets of the Cradle of Liberty. We knew we’d love the sandwiches, were hopeful the portions would be more Philadelphia than Albuquerque, and wondered if the famous Philadelphia passion would be part and parcel of our experience.

Green Chile Fries

Philly’s Steaks was launched by Jim and Joe Lelii, twin brothers with a passion for Italian style cooking. The brothers launched their first restaurant at only 21 years of age and over the years, opened several successful Italian restaurants and sandwich shops across the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Shortly after relocating to the Land of Enchantment, they launched Philly’s Steaks. They’ve got the pedigree and the passion to do it right. In rare lulls in grill activity, we shared good conversation and laughs with the affable Joe, a larger-than-life personality who doesn’t perpetuate the stereotype of the grumpy counterman. He was as as friendly as could be. Look at his Popeye-like forearms and it’s obvious Joe has spent much of his life chopping rib eye on the grill, a melodic percussion of metal on metal as he slices the rib eye into thin, small pieces.

Philly Steaks is a veritable shrine to the City of Brotherly Love, both its heroes and its anti-heroes. Walls are festooned with framed photos of iconic Philadelphia sports icons–real (Smoking Joe Frazier, for example) and cinematic (Rocky Balboa anyone), singers, actors (such as Al Martino) and so much more. One wall used to be dedicated to Joe’s family.  Alas, about a year after launching Philly Steaks, the brothers Lelii sold their restaurant to Chastity Bustos who operates the restaurant with her family.  Some things (such as a reduced menu) have changed, but Philly Steaks is still your go-to restaurant for oversized Philly steaks.

Onion Rings

3 March 2018: Seeing “French Fries” on any menu typically inspires a well-deserved yawn. At Philly Steaks, it inspires contemplation–a deep, thoughtful deliberation as to how you want your fries. Sure, you can save the thick, seasoned fries for ketchup, but how boring is that–especially when you can have your fries with Cheese Whiz, Crab, Crab and Cheese, Buffalo chicken and cheese, green chile and cheese, and Philly cheesesteak? Available in two sizes, regular and bucket, either portion size will sate a family of four. Don’t be wary about ordering your fries with green chile and cheese. It’s as if a native New Mexican prepared the green chile. It’s got both piquancy and the distinctive roasted flavor we love.

14 March 2018: On his one “cheat day” a week, my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” allows himself just a few more carbs than usual. One of his favorite indulgences is onion rings–what Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster calls “vegetable donuts.” Philly Steak’s rendition are battered a bit on the thick side with a panko-like breading. Bite into each of the succulent orbs and the flavor of sweet, juicy onions greets you. Be careful, though, as these onion rings could burn your mouth.

My Friend Bruce “Sr Plata” Holds A Cheesesteak

If you’ve ever lamented the chintzy meat portions in sandwiches crafted throughout the Duke City, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (maybe amazed) at how generous portion sizes are at Philly Steaks. Half a Philly Steaks cheesesteak is as big, if not bigger, than any other Philly cheesesteak in Albuquerque. You’d think there is more livestock in Pennsylvania than there is in New Mexico where sheep and cattle outnumber our citizenry. And, if you remember the lawsuit a few years ago against Subway for selling twelve-inch and foot-long sandwiches that were allegedly less than twelve-inches long, you’ll be happy to see elongated, torpedo-sized rolls that probably exceed twelve inches at Philly Steaks. This is the sandwich size Duke City diners deserved and perhaps thought they’d never find in the city.

3 March 2018: One look at the Philly Cheesesteak and we knew there’s no way my Kim and I would be able to finish it in one sitting. It was humongous. Moreover, it was bursting with flavor. As at the aforementioned Pat’s King of Steaks, there’s a process for ordering your Philly Cheesesteak. First you select your protein: beef (fresh-cut rib-eye), chicken (fresh-cut boneless chicken breast) or “impossible”) then your choice of cheese (white American, Pepperjack, Swiss, Provolone, Cheese Whiz) then the type of cheesesteak you want: pizza steak, mushroom cheesesteak, bell pepper cheesesteak, chicken cheesesteak, Buffalo chicken cheesesteak or green chile cheesesteak. While the ordering process may be similar to that of Pat’s, the “attitude” is not. Instead of sass and ‘tood, you’ll be greeted with cheer and friendliness.

Philly Cheesesteak with Double White American Cheese

If our choice (bell pepper cheesesteak with Provolone) is any indication, you can’t go wrong with any one of them. The grilled rib eye is superbly seasoned, tender and delicious. The hoagie roll is perhaps the best we’ve had in Albuquerque. The portion size–it’s what Duke City sandwich lovers have wanted for years. Of course, one of the most difficult decisions to make when ordering a cheesesteak is what type of cheese to request. We’ve had our share of cheesesteaks with the fabled Cheese Whiz as well as with Provolone and American cheeses, but our favorite has been the white cheese with its salty, pungent notes. It melts well and integrates beautifully with the steak.

14 March 2018: Like me, my friend Bruce “Sr. Plata” Silver has long lamented the dearth of sizeable sandwiches in the Duke City. Having grown up in Los Angeles, he was used to sandwiches as big as footballs. In Philly’s Steaks, he’s finally found a sandwich comparable in size to those with which he was raised. Moreover, the cheesesteak he ordered (mushrooms, red peppers, grilled onions and Provolone) was as delicious as any sandwich he’s had anywhere. My sandwich was exactly the same as his save for ordering Cheese Whiz instead of Provolone. Perhaps traumatized by my inaugural visit to Pat’s King of Steaks, I didn’t order mine “Whiz Wit,” local vernacular for ordering a cheesesteak with Whiz and grilled onions. Maybe next time. At any regard, we both enjoyed our sandwiches very much and thoroughly enjoyed our visit with Joe.

Italian Special

3 March 2018: Freshly sliced hoagies, all served with lettuce, tomato, onion, oil, oregano, hot or sweet peppers, salt and pepper and mayo on request, are an excellent alternative to a cheesesteak (if you can pry yourself away from the sandwich which made Philadelphia famous). There are ten sandwiches in the freshly sliced hoagies portion of the menu. Among them is a sandwich almost as elusive as Forrest Fenn’s treasure, a truly transformative Italian Special (ham, capicola, Genoa salami, Provolone, pepper ham). It’s roughly the size of two, maybe three, similarly named and priced Italian sub sandwiches at any Albuquerque restaurant.

Most ordinary humans won’t be able to consume an entire sandwich in one seating (that turns out to be a blessing because the sandwich tastes even better for breakfast the following day). Most of us (exempting politicians) won’t be able to get the sandwich in our mouths. It is seriously thick and crammed with meats and condiments. The meats (Boar’s Head) work very well with the condiments, the more of them the better. With its sweet and mild notes, Provolone lets other ingredients shine as well as being a great foil for the sweet, tangy peppers. Oh, and the hoagie rolls are fantastic, reminiscent of Amoroso’s, the legendary Philadelphia hearth-baked bread. Joe told us the dough is shipped from Philadelphia and baked on the premises. It’s outstanding bread and the way it’s sliced, there’s not so much bread that it dominates the sandwich and leaves little room for other ingredients.

Crab Soup

19 October 2018: We’ve all heard the trite expression, “Pizza is like sex.  When it’s good, it’s really good and when it’s bad…it’s still pretty good.”   This is a versatile expression in which pizza can be replaced by virtually an “insert your own favorite” array of foods.  Sometimes the expression rings with truth.  At other times, however, when a type of food is bad, it’s really bad.  For me, the “really bad” aphorism resounds with unimpeachable truth when recalling a chicken Parmesan sandwich I had back in 2012 at Burger King.  In my defense, I was in a hurry and desperate.  It had been years since my last chicken parm sandwich.  Besides how bad can a chicken Parmesan sandwich be even if it comes from a chain restaurant I avoid like the plague and The View.

Admittedly, my bar for chicken Parmesan sandwiches is pretty high since having experienced a number of life-altering versions at my favorite red sauce restaurants across the Boston area.  If you’ve ever had a chicken Parm sandwich on the East Coast, you know of what I speak.  It stands to reason two brothers from Philadelphia would construct a great one…and indeed, they do.  As with the cheesesteak sandwiches, it’s a behemoth sandwich best consumed over two meals.  The chicken cutlets are lightly breaded, thicker and more moist than most I’ve had.  Unlike others, however, the Parmesan is on the bottom bread only.  The sauce is redolent with Italian seasonings which evoked nostalgia for Boston-area sauces of my youth.  If there’s one thing about this sandwich that could be improved, it would be for even more of that sauce, but that’s coming from someone who loves a great sauce as much as I love a good snow day.

Chicken Parmesan, a Special Specialty Sandwich

3 March 2018: When my Kim was studying the small dessert case, Joe came up to her and suggested she try the cheesecake which is imported directly from the City of Brotherly Love. It makes great sense that the city famous for its eponymous cream cheese would make a superb cheesecake. Indeed it does. Moreover, food historian Gil (great name) Marks notes that Philadelphia boasted of a tavern called “Cheesecake House” in the 18th century. So, Philadelphians have been enjoying cheesecake for years. You’ll enjoy this one. It’s dense, creamy, buttery and not overly sweet on a Graham crust. Even better, it’s served slab-sized so it’s big enough to share. Take my word for it, if you eat even half a sandwich, you’ll only have room enough left for half a slice of cheesecake.


If you’ve ever experienced the stereotyped seedy side of Philadelphia manners as well as the authenticity and deliciousness of the Philadelphia cheesecake, you’ll love Philly Steaks where you can experience the latter without the “passion” for which Philadelphians are known. Philly Steaks has elevated the sandwich scene in Albuquerque.

Philly Steaks
2520 Juan Tabo, N.E., Suite C
Albuquerque, New Mexico
(505) 582-2527
Web Site | Facebook Page
LATEST VISIT: 5 March 2020
1st VISIT: 3 March 2018
COST: $$
BEST BET: Philly Cheesesteak, Cheesecake, Italian Special, Crab Soup, Green Chile Fries, Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
REVIEW #1029

40 thoughts on “Philly Steaks – Albuquerque, New Mexico

  1. “Philly Steaks is still your go-to restaurant for oversized Philly steaks.”

    Well, not according to my inaugural visit today right after work. I couldn’t believe this was the same place that garnered a coveted 23 rating from you.

    It was not busy and the service was not up to par. Did you order quadruple meat on the Philly, because the steak (and everything) on mine was puny and I had to go Sherlock to find the cheese. Dry as all get out… I found a squeeze bottle of Great Value horseradish sauce in that mini-fridge that houses beverages, but alas, it was expired. Maybe I should have visited in its heyday but it’s a trek and I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d try it.

    I ended up giving the leftover cut half of my 12″ sandwich to a cold guy on a sidewalk outside a Walgreens, since I couldn’t envision savoring that tomorrow. I hope he enjoyed it. He looked like he needed some protein.

    1. That is truly a shocker! My first thoughts were, either the restaurant has changed hands or the owner has passed away. I say this as someone who frequents Philly Steaks. The worst my sandwiches get is good. They are great when the owner is at the grill. He has had the usual difficulty with competent staff, but the latest crew seems to be on top of things. The last time I visited, there was a man I’d never seen before acting as a manager. Kind of odd since it’s a family place. Perhaps something has changed. That would truly be sad. Gil, our intrepid in the loop blogger, please let us know if there are murmurs on the grapevine about this.

  2. Gil, you have got to get your beef loving bride back here! Unfortunately the sammies are only 5 star when the owner is there which he was today and it was heaven. I think that is because he struggled with keeping a crew for a while, just like everybody in the restaurant business has. I was happy to note today that two of the employees were people I’d seen before and have been there for a while. Happy bunch so there’s hope. He’s expanded his menu a bit but you can’t go wrong with the steak Philly and fries. Onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, white American cheese… I don’t get them but I’m told that the hot peppers are quite piquant. Next time you’re over this way.

  3. I guess I’ve made it my mission to report on the quality restaurants that are still hanging in there, in light of those who have given up the ghost! When I hear of a closure I briefly think, dang, I should have visited there more often. Or, why didn’t I tell more people about this great place? I have been a regular patron of Philly Steaks since I first visited a little over a year ago. There was a brief pause for sticker shock when forces in the economy caused them to raise their prices. When it soon became clear that EVERYTHING we eat was now going to cost a lot more than it should, I resumed. I am so glad that I did. The steak sandwiches are still delicious, loaded with fresh ingredients on bread that tastes as if it just came out of the oven. Sometimes I can make a 12″ last for two meals but even if I don’t, I won’t need much more to eat that day. To further help with costs, the owner initiated a loyalty card — buy 9, get one free. Think it will take you a long time to eat nine sandwiches? Tell me that after you’ve tasted a couple!

  4. Visited here today for the first time. I’m happy to report that my sandwich was quite tasty. I got the steak with white cheese, green peppers, mushrooms and onions. The meat was moist and flavorful; the vegetables crisp and fresh. I didn’t need the onion rings as my philly steak (6 inch) was very philling. I’m not even sure if “need” and “onion rings” belong in the same sentence! I tried to talk myself out of it, but when I learned that a slice of cheesecake was a mere $3, I had to get one. It is the best I’ve had in ages. Soft and creamy, not dense like some folks make them.
    The final thing that will ensure that I return is the concern they showed for my questions about ingredients. Dining out with the huz is difficult because he has a severe reaction to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS.) Inquiries about what on the menu has this ingredient range from blank stares to lies. More often than not, he decides he can’t deal with it and I have to explore restaurants without his companionship. Well, the staff at Philly Steaks didn’t know if their bread had HFCS, but they pulled out all of the stops to find out for me. I was impressed. First the server asked, then the kitchen cook came out and proceeded to read me every ingredient from the suppliers website. We had a few laughs over the “what exactly is that?!” ingredients, but in the end their hoagie rolls are safe from HFCS. Hallelujah.
    I might return tomorrow just for another piece of cheesecake…..

  5. Well, it was worth the 20 minutes (i.e. 40 RT) to get a 6 in CheeseSteak with fried onions, shrooms, green pepper, and I chose Swiss and lite mayo. The just-right sized bun stayed well intact, the tasty meat was moist and the veggies did not have an unpleasant texture compared to what I tried earlier in the week at a recently developed semi-mega complex at Coors/Montano that somehow is supposed to produce significantly less roadway congestion than a defeated WallyMart’s being there. Anyway, I’m not going to say Which sandwich shoppe it was that I found less than satisfactory that a supposed- friend told me was there, albeit untested. Suffice it to say Philly Steak’s cheesesteak is well worth the trip especially if ya tune into 92.9FM which must’ve had something to do with my PC arriving back home in great shape! PS I went on a mid Sat afternoon. I suggest calling-in your order despite 4 masked Folk hustling/working the counter/grill/prep.

  6. Have been going here since they opened. Love both the sandwiches and the management.

    But the best time to visit is on the weekend when the real boss is running the register and taking orders.

    You will not be disappointed.

  7. Hello Gil,
    Thanks for your review, It`s so interested!
    A bit about how I visited at Philly Steaks
    This place is fantastic! I’m absolutely over the moon for The Philly! This Philly is overloaded with meat and cheese.
    The bread is soft and fresh. No condiments are needed. Partner and I each got one, with a regular fry. Finished the fries and had food to take home.
    The staff are friendly and answered all menu questions. The pricing is incredibly reasonable. I’m looking forward to another visit!
    Has good reviews
    And awesome menu

  8. I found out a couple of weeks ago that they are under new management. The bubbly new manager promises nothing will change. I ate a great burger that day since a Philly Steak sandwich was more than my appetite could handle. My friends said the Philly Steaks they ordered were just as good as before.

    I’ll be back again and soon.

    Best wishes to Joe and Jim on their next adventure!

  9. Ive seen many restaurants in this location not make it. This is an example that if you serve good food people will find you and keep coming back. I travel quite often to Philadelphia and eat at Jimmy’s, Geno’s and Pat’s. This is right there with them. Thanks for bringing some authenticity to Albuquerque.

    1. Joe, Geno’s and Pats are tourist traps. I’m and anyone else from Philadelphia will tell you that. Those two are really not genuine cheesesteak places. I don’t think you mean Jimmys but Jim’s on South Street. I will never go there again because if you look it up on YouTube they had a rat problem If you want real cheesesteaks in Philadelphia got to Delasandros (maybe spelled wrong) or Steve’s Prince of Steaks. They are the genuine steaks. Philly Steaks here in Albuquerque are also the genuine thing. Joe, I’m not trying to be a wise ass, but wanted to inform you. Everyone knows Geno’s and Pats from the food shows. FYI, grew up and spent my first 41 years in Philadelphia and have never eaten at Geno’s. When people would visit I took them to Pats because they wanted to go there. In NM the question is Red or Green?Unfortunately in Philadelphia it’s Pats or Geno’s? Correct answer is neither!

  10. I just don’t know! Chicken this! Chicken That!
    Seriously? A Chicken Parmesan sandwich???
    IMHO…unless I’m grossly in left field and the Pope has not as yet disputed me, there’s only Veal Parmigiana…plated or in a sandwich. Seriously? Does Pollo Parm get ya turned on printed on a menu?
    With due respect to other opinions, presumptively, I am taking action as in

    1. Yes, Roberto, chicken Parmesan sandwiches. My dear friend Becky Mercuri reminded me that chicken Parmesan became popular when veal got so expensive then faded from popularity about 30 years ago because of how veal is produced. Both veal and chicken Parmesan are still offered by many old school red sauce Italian restaurants. My preference, of course, is for veal Parmesan, but Philly Steaks doesn’t offer it.

      I’ve been asked why anyone would order a chicken Parmesan sandwich when the best cheesesteak in town is available. Wouldn’t this blog be really boring if I ordered the same thing every time I visited a restaurant? Besides, how else would I find out whether or not there’s something better.

      1. Whoa, is it 30 years since V***Parm began disappearing? Actually, I thought it was because some Folks were sensitive about from where it was derived and it became possibly one of the first things to become unPC! No offense, but am glad it still can be had at Joe’s and Trombino’s, wherein the latter tends to over-cheese/marina V***Parm unless you express a preference.
        Speaking of food Italien (Ok Asian…Eh! it was a stretching attempt at segueing!)

  11. ​Many Folks herein seem…well…obsessed with (Philly) CheezeSteaks​…NO Judgement call there! However, as not all family members may be so endowed in terms of taste, here’s some alternatives…Win-Wins as “they” say! Yo! remember when you tired of Mom’s plain old Stuffed Bell Peppers? Check out that and others elsewise herein:

  12. Finally had business way over that side of town to have the GreenChile CheeseSteak with pepper/onions to go.
    When you go…and ya will…try to avoid the Noon Lunch…altho, even at that, my wait was under 8 minutes; 95% of tables were taken. If you choose the Cheese Whiz for your cheese choice, but never had it and are leery per imaginings/rumors of what kind of cheese can come in a jar, ask for it on the side. This was handy for me because the 2 cuplettes didn’t add to the moistness of the bun getting yucky on the way home. FYI: the bun stayed robust for the 11 mile trip across town for 28 minutes to where we are not stuffy as it is so erroneously rumored and was deliciously warm for eating and enjoying with a Carlsberg [beer]!
    Whoa! first thing I spotted entering this right sized for its purpose, noncapacious place, way back in a corner was Gil’s Big amigo Bill (Santa) Resnik. Let me say this, if we had 11 Guys of his build and the healthy shape he stays in…and there is not age restrictions nor number of classes needed to be taken to be on the Lobos football team, I’m thinking we could easily be in the Rose Bowl or that other playoff thing this coming season vs being considered to being dropped per finances. I say this because once my sandwich was ready…and despite my going to the gym 3x a week since Feb.(!)…I had to call upon him to help carry my GreenChilePhillyCheeseSteak out to my car!!! Let me not even try to describe his exploring something called The Godfather on this repeat visit .
    Oh, BTW, the soft bun in contrast to many nouveau-sandwich offerings around town, is not dis-proportional to the quantity of the steak packedk therein, which is finely chopped and delicious per my choice of the onions and sweet peppers. The green chile?…yes, it will get your attention.
    – Given PS’s apparent success and given ‘we’ “deserve/have a right to” a PS across the river and while one should have due respect to the overabundace/proliferation of places/competition city wide, might a PS marriage with a brewery be a possibility taking over Zio’s on Coors? Too bad CA Pastrami spent bucks remodeling as that would be a nice business model combo akin to the uni-order counter of the A&W/Long John Silver’s setup atop 528 in RR.

    – Say, has any one been to a restaurant selling the The Green Chile CheeseBurger Tomato(e)s yet? Chopped green chile replaces the pickle slice.
    Is any restaurant featuring Fermented Veggies? RE the latter: There is a Festival next weekend

    1. Thanks for the kind words. It was great to run into you there. Those Philly Steak sandwiches are huge. I hope your seat belt was able to fit around your green chile Philly without an extender. Those sandwiches are so big they need their own passenger seat. My Godfather sandwich was as good as it looked and is currently my favorite sub in town.

    2. Fermented Vegetables? Any Korean place-really only one in town, Fu Yuang which has some great stews with kimchi. For the ultimate fermented vegetable experience head to Denver where last week we hit Seoul BBQ; forget the BBQ and order Kimchi stew which came with not 3, not 6, not 9, not 12, but 15-banchan mostly fermented vegetables. They finally have a worthy competitor though, Shin Myung Gwan BBQ which is almost as good.

      1. Thanks Jim for the “reminder” RE Fu Yuang, given I’ve never been…must get over my laziness for getting over to that side of town since I stopped going to PF Chang’s (LOL) since they stopped serving Sweet & Sour Pork (MLOL) for reasons they don’t want to talk about.
        (Elsewise: My Regards to The Child Bride. Next time @ Joe’s PH, look for the young Gal from Korea who is (as Joe’s usual standard) a delightful Waitperson who I met a couple of weeks ago.)

  13. I finally gave in and because of my grounded status had Kamikaze Bok take me on the most terrifying 6-block ride of my life. I had very little experience with Philly Cheese sandwiches and hated them at such gourmet locations as the Winrock Food Court. The only time we were ever in Philadelphia we ate at Morimotos, the most overpriced rush them in & rush them out experience of our lives.
    Hearing that they were large we split a Philly Steak, cheese whiz, grilled peppers and green chile. Marvelous. I could barely eat my yuge half and my dining companion of Kamikazi fame matched my performance. Marvelous!!!

  14. Joined Sensei on this expedition as I love Cheesesteak Sandwiches. So do my dogs if they ever get near any and they did about 5 years ago and are in love with them too. I had a Cheesesteak with Provolone, Beef, Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms and Green Chile. I can’t wait to come back to this place as the sandwich size was amazing. In contrast to one of my blogging peers, I didn’t find my sandwich oily at all. All I tasted was the goodness of Rib Eye. My only negative was I couldn’t find the Green Chile I requested, but it was my fault for not immediately asking them about it as I wolfed it down too fast being it was my breakfast and I was famished; next time I will have to make sure it has it. We met Joe, one of the owners and he was awesome to talk to and found that he was the ‘real deal’. It seems that Albuquerque East meets West so being a Los Angeleno temporarily transported to the East Coast was transparent. He mentioned possibly coming out to the West Albuquerque/Rio Rancho area and I could see myself eating there at least once/week.(there is an empty spot to be where Namaste is/was as they are moving out (hint hint)…Sr Plata Out

    1. Alas Sr Plata: Per your championing getting eateries to locate on the West Side of the Rio Grande and apparently keeping up with mitote per e.g. your comment about Namaste, have you heard anything further about the renovation at Fat Squirrel, e.g. is Nicky V (and her Viejo) still the owner(s); when might it reopen
      – A couple of years ago, now closed Rub n Wood used to let a dozen or so BlueGrass players jam there on Wednesday nights. Have you run across that happening elsewhere up on your Hill? Elsewise, don’t forget the former Zio’s and TGIF are looking for tenants.
      Say, just down the way from Zio’s is California Pastrami (in the former Lumpy’s on 7 Bar Loop). Given Joe is a local AND a former Californian like yourself, might you have tried his e.g. Reuben and have a thought? (See what horrors are happening in CA re Reubens: Lest you have time, might you also add your 25 cents over here about old LA dining ?

      1. BOTVOLR,
        It seems logical that Rio Rancho as a restaurant location is not what it used to be. And the why is simple, 37% fewer salaried employees at Intel to go out for lunch. You can look for all the reasons you want but 37% is a large chunk. I believe 700 or so employee. Assuming a 5 day work week iand several hundred lost meals a few days a week. Well, you do the math. That’s an awful lot of local bucks not being spent.
        So of course there is going to be a ripple effect and a natural fall off and in that environment fewer restaurants, especially locally owned establishments are going to suffer the most.
        But don’t worry, the Dog House is safe.

        1. “It seems logical that Rio Rancho as a restaurant location is not what it used to be.”

          Alas 8, you are correct in terms of sustainability, let alone any new growth of sites around RR Intel nowadays. Indeed, I believe your 37% figure of 700 was 2016 from 2015. Perhaps more traumatic to lunch time monies is the overall decline from a high of 5,000 employees to the 1,200 today. I remember some acquaintances of the ‘engineering’ genre even circa ’92, thinking, pre-emptively, of job hunting per constant rumors.

          Clearly, the surrounding area has maxed out residential wise for replacement customers, while the center of RR has “supposedly” shifted as well. I believe it was RR City Hall near Southern and 528, that was razed and then placed in the boonies near the Star Center per a misplanning on how rapidly the town would grow out to there. Nevertheless, it boggles my mind what have sprouted like weeds on Unser (albeit possibly a bit far for Intel lunch) in just a 3 mile stretch between say Irving to Southern as a restaurant location. While it depends on what one means by dining and/or recent, these seem significant in terms of a lunch time crowd:
          Crackin Crab; Marble Brewery; Vanilla Bean; Subway; Einstein Bagels; Dion’s; IHOP; Five Guys; Papa Murphy’s; Ironwood Kitchen; Menchies Yogurt; Chili’s; Jersey Mike’s; Sushi King; Cold Stone; (Wise Pies & Prime came, but possibly left which may have to do with internal business practices than customers); Chica-fil-A; Del Taco; Taco Cabana and M’Tucci’s. Can’t help but think they’ve put a strain on the older/traditional places like (old) Fat Squirrel, Ohare’s, and Joe’s PH. Can’t help but to wonder if the latter has felt the effects as well of the dying off of the ‘pure’ Italian immigrants from NY/CT who came in the late ’60s/’70s, plus what has developed “at the bottom of The Hill.
          – Alas, back on 528/Intel: instead of being able to count on lunch from Intel, a great GCCB ‘across the street’ at Toro Burger, languishes attempting to be only open after 5, along with the many sites that sprouted back in the good old days.

          1. I’m not sure what you mean by “pure” Italian as it relates to Italian food. If only “pure” Italians ate Italian food there would be no Italian restaurants. A recent poll put Italian food’s popularity at 71%, third highest in the US.
            Regarding your post, the fact that restaurants go out of business relates to several factors including age, type of food, choices available, price point, and the local economy among them.

  15. I ate here for the first time over the weekend. It is just down the street in the former “The Grill” space on Juan Tabo.
    First, the positives: Got the cheesesteak (beef, with onions, provolone) and the cheez whiz fries. Sandwich: huge. Fries: tasted great and the cheez whiz was a great addition.
    Negatives: Sandwich: unfortunately mine was made with WAY too much vegetable oil on the grill, and the overall flavor suffered. Strange-ish beef consistency…ended up being more like ground beef on mine. Under-seasoned.
    I’ve been to Philly and have eaten both at Pat’s and Geno’s. This sandwich is comparable. If you’re expecting Tony Luke’s (the best, IMO) this place would be a B minus or C plus.
    I’ll chalk it up to a miss for me on my first visit. Hopefully my next visit will be better and I’ll update this comment.

    1. Ryan, don’t compare this to Pats and Geno’s, I’m from Philadelphia and those two you mentioned are tourist traps. This sandwich @ Philly Steaks is MUCH better. Everyone always mentions Pats and Geno’s because it is always on the food shows. This is as good as Delasandros or Steve’s Prince of Steaks in the Northeast. Believe it or not, Philly Steaks puts more meat on their sandwich than the Philly Steak places. One of the MOST important things to judge a cheesesteak is the roll. Philly steaks understands that! If you ever go back to Philadelphia go to Delasandros or Steve’s Prince of Steaks. I can guarantee you will not set foot in Pats or Geno’s again.

  16. Was there yesterday Really authentic Philly Steak. I’m from Philly so I speak with valid background. Roll was excellent (most places here don’t realize that is so important) I’m one of the ones that loves my steak with Wiz. Onions on the grill, plenty of meat. Just an excellent Cheese Steak. Actually ranks up there with Dalasandros and Steves Prince of steaks in Philadelphia. Really people try it. It is that good.

    1. Sounds like the real thing.
      There are so many pretenders but you make me want to get over there and give it a try.
      Thanks for commenting.
      I left Philadelphia in 1963 and I’m curious if you ever heard of Spazianos on 11th and Rising Sun.? The had terrific Pizza Steak heroes. Huge by any standard.
      I may be spelling it incorrectly, it been a long time.
      What about the Harvey House just south of City Hall on Broad Street? They had Texas Tommies, hot dogs sliced down the middle filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon. I spent too much time eating and not enough time studying.

      1. No, never heard of Spazianos. My mother use to take me to the Harvey House for Texas Tommies. I think that closed over 50 years ago. Hope you enjoy Philly Steaks.

        1. Thanks.
          I used to make the TT’s at home for my son, he loved them.
          50 years ……. seems like a lifetime ago but the memories of those foods are still fresh even if I’m not. Thanks for replying

  17. Gil
    Thank you for such a stellar review! I’ve always known these boys were magic in the kitchen, and to see them recognized this way has made my day.
    You did a great job describing Joe, and those of us from Philly!
    The stories of getting sent to the back of the line at Pat’s and Geno’s for not ordering correctly/quick enough….TRUE!!
    Job well done!

  18. I am a born and bred Philly girl and I’ve eaten Jim and Joe’s sandwiches- almost all of them! Without a doubt, Philly Steaks is the real deal. Powerhouse portions, cooked to perfection. Whether you get the cheese steak or the Italian special (hoagie), always save the second half for later as they get better the little ne’er they sit. Best sandwiches ever!

  19. Thank you so much for this review! It’s awesome and nicely written! I love your style. The description of people in the Philadelphia area is extremely accurate, lol. We embrace it, though. One slight tweak: the website is actually The current website link takes you to a different website.

    1. Thank you very much for setting me on the straight and narrow, Marissa. Now, can you tell me about the name Lelli? It’s such a great name, but one I’d never previously heard–even during my days in Massachusetts.

      1. I don’t know a ton about the last name other than it is definitely Italian. I think some of our extended family has tried to do research into the ancestry behind it, but there hasn’t been too much found. I often wonder if Lelii is a shortened form of a longer last name? A lot of people I run into tend to think the last name is Hawaiian, surprisingly enough, haha!

  20. Had lunch today, ordered the Cheese Steak sandwich. Grilled onions, Hot peppers, Bell peppers and Cheese Whiz. The meat was very tasty and plentiful and the roll held up well under the immense amount of oil used in the prep of the meat. The oil was running down my hand as I held the sandwich. The onions were cooked nicely, the hot peppers and bell peppers hurt my eyes, trying to find them and the amount of cheese for such a large sandwich was equal to about a teaspoon. I didn’t order any sides or dessert and dined alone so the Cheese Steak is all I can comment on. Would I go back, yes, I would ask for more of the peppers and hold the cheese, Provolone would have been a wiser choice. I think next time I will have the Italian Special Hoagie. I read the whole menu and they offer oil on their Hoagies but do not list vinegar as an option.

  21. Hi Gil. I see by your review (as promised in the Dining ABQ section) that my taste buds were correct. That may have been my first cheesesteak, but it will certainly not be my last, I hope.

  22. Hey Gil,

    Thanks so much for this review. Having recently moved from Philly to ABQ, I will add a few thoughts. First of all, you are reminding me of how hungry I am for a good hoagie, which I always choose over the more famous cheesesteak. Secondly, attitude, of which Philadelphians have plenty, is pronounced attitood.

    As an aside, one of the similarities between Philadelphia and Albuquerque is the residents tendency to be negative and talk smack about their hometown. Both of these cities have much to recommend them, and IMHO, this focus on what is not working is far more negative than they deserve.

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